Craig Murray

Ex-diplomant seeks to appeal Salmond trial contempt to UK's highest court
A former diplomat sentenced to eight months in jail for contempt of court during the Alex Salmond trial is seeking to appeal his case to the UK Supreme Court.

Blogger Craig Murray, 62, was judged to have published material capable of identifying four of the women who had accused the former First Minister of sexual assaults.

A former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Murray attended two days of Mr Salmond's trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020, sitting in the public gallery, then wrote about it on his website.

Three judges, including the trial judge Lady Dorrian, later ruled he was in contempt of court due to the risk of jigsaw identification - publishing material which added to other information in the public domain could have identified the complainers.

At his sentencing last month, Lady Dorrian said Murray appeared to have been "relishing" the potential disclosure of identities despite court orders granting the women lifelong anonymity.

She said Murray deliberately risked jigsaw identification and revealing complainers' identities was "abhorrent", adding it was "particularly so, given the enormous publicity which the case in question attracted and continues to attract".

Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges of sexual assault at the trial.

Murray was given three weeks to appeal the decision.

At a High Court hearing today, his lawyer Roddy Dunlop QC argued Murray should be granted permission to appeal to the UK's highest court against the verdict and sentence.

The notion of jigsaw identification had received "relatively little attention" from the courts, he said.

He said: "His submission is that imprisonment in a case such as this would be compliant with Article 10 (of the European Convention of Human Rights) only in exceptional circumstances. My submission is that that is not the case here."

He continued: "The proliferation of blogging makes the outcome here one of general importance.

"This is an issue of acute sensitivity and one on which the view of the Supreme Court would be very welcome."

Mr Dunlop said some had suggested that the proceedings against Murray were "politically motivated".

The QC said he did not make this submission himself but "the fact remains these views are out there".

Mr Dunlop also argued that if the court were to find against his client he could still appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

If that were the case, he argued that the arrest warrant should be suspended for a further three or four weeks.

Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian said the court would consider the submissions it had received and hoped to issue a written decision on Tuesday.